September 21, 2017

“Wonder” Is a Must-Read for Kids 9 and Up


By Ann Van De Water

Every once in a while, I read a book that I feel compelled to recommend to all my friends. Wonder by RJ Palacio is one of these books.  I can’t imagine anyone NOT loving this book.  It has been on many Best Books of 2012 lists, including NPR’s Best Books of 2012 for kids.  It is recommended for readers 9 years old and up.  

 

Set in the present, Wonder is about a boy who has a severe facial deformity.  The story takes place during his 5th grade school year which is also his first year not being homeschooled. It includes all the trials and tribulations associated with navigating the social landmines in a new school for a child whose appearance brings out the worst and best of others.  The author wrote this novel, her first, after her own two children saw a child who was deformed and did not act like she would have hoped they would.  She was very embarrassed by their behavior and wondered what it must be like to be such a child.

 

I read this novel aloud to my twin daughters who are also in 5th grade.  It led to many discussions and moments for sharing and reflecting.  It also led me to have my daughters read certain parts aloud when I was overcome by emotion.  Warning:  You will cry, but you will also smile, laugh and cheer on the characters during their journeys. Chapters are told from various characters’ perspectives,  including the main character, his sister, and several students at his school, lending new insights into characters’ emotional lives and motivations for various actions. 

 

Although certain points are painfully sad, there is plenty of humor, compassion, great use of song lyrics and literary references that introduce and anchor chapters, and an absolutely WONDERFUL ending.  Please read this book to yourself or to your child.  Then pass it on.

 

Ann is a former high school English teacher and now a stay-at-home mom to 11-year-old twin girls.
 
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